Cities4Children: 2021 in review

Global Alliance - Cities 4 Children 2021 in review

Author: Cities4Children

Launched at the World Urban Forum in 2020, the Global Alliance – Cities4Children was established to tackle the huge challenges and numerous issues faced by children living in urban areas, especially the most marginalized. The Alliance brings together a range of organisations from INGOs, UN agencies, private sector, academia, foundations and people’s movements – all with a track record on working for children rights, health and wellbeing in cities.
We believe that together, we can achieve greater collective impact and influence, encourage coordination and multidisciplinary engagement, and enable country and city level collaboration. Most importantly, we’ll have a louder voice with joint advocacy and communications to transform the narrative on urbans fit for children.

Childhood today is lived and experienced predominantly in cities. And yet city makers don’t always seem as though they’ve had children’s needs and aspirations front of mind. Often there’s a startling lack of green and playful space, lack of pavements and pedestrian crossings, and poor housing and sanitation facilities. This is particularly evident in vulnerable urban contexts: close to half a billion children are growing up in slums around the world.

Collectively, we want to influence the way urban areas are planned, regenerated and managed, to support children and youth to reach their highest potential. We want urban areas where children and youth can grow up healthy, safe and happy, where they have access to opportunities and where the rights of children and their caregivers are respected.

The members of the Alliance work in many countries around the world, bringing our wide range of expertise on a broad range of topics: including child health, nutrition, air pollution, urban planning and design, street design, road safety, safety for girls, and much more.

‘When I started inviting member organisations to the alliance, I thought we would be only  8-10 member organisations. In our first year, we have already grown to more than 25 organisations, eager to collaborate and learn from each other all with a vision to change our cities and make them better for children and young people.’ Sarah Sabry: Global Urban Lead – Save the Children. Founding Chair and Steering Committee Member, Cities4Children

As we near the end of 2021, we’d like to take this opportunity to celebrate some of our key achievements and milestones.

Our website went live

We’re really proud of our website. It is a collective effort. We’re developing a hub packed with information, so that anyone interested in how cities can be made more relevant and responsive to children and their caregivers can find out more.

In addition to our background information and blog, we also have a growing Knowledge Hub, where published papers and reports and relevant resources sit. View everything on the Hub here.

Five research to action briefs published

It’s important for us that we don’t simply produce papers with ideas that can never be implemented. With this in mind, we focused on developing research to action briefs, which show how research can be carried out to create impactful change. So far, we’ve published briefs on five key areas: a broad overview of children in cities, malnutrition, air pollution, local governance and COVID19.  Our research series goes through a rigorous review process: each paper has been reviewed by at least 3 academic reviewers and 3 practitioners.

Access the full collection here Knowledge Hub – Cities4Children


Ten blogs published and counting

We want to inspire action, and we want cities to change to be better for children and their caregivers. For these reasons, we decided a regular blog was a vital part of the Alliance.

Our fast-growing resource of blogs include an exploration of how common spaces to play in can boost a child’s development, why nature is so important for children in cities, alternative ways to set up early childhood care in slums, quick tactical urbanism ideas to change the city, and many other topics.

All blogs are reviewed twice by Alliance members to ensure utmost accuracy and relevance. You can view our blogs here, and, if you’d be interested in contributing, you can view the writing brief here. We’ve loved the contributions from our guest writers!

Organisation of an event at COP26

COP26 was a turning point: it showed how everything we do and implement must be viewed through the prism of climate change.

As part of the conference, we hosted our first event: an intergenerational dialogue hosted by journalist Chris Michael, featuring eminent panelists including Saul Billingsley, executive director of the FIA Foundation, Zoleka Mandela, activist and Nelson Mandela’s granddaughter, Elizabeth Wathuti as our keynote speaker and Helen Clark, former president of New Zealand.

It also included a rich panel of youth activists, including Daniel Onyango and Omnia El Omrani. You can watch the discussion here. So far there have been nearly 2,000 independent views of the discussion on YouTube.

As an Alliance we met weekly to plan this event, and we pooled our contacts, resources and creativity to come up with an event that would be useful as well as enjoyable.

Cities 4 Children intergenerational panel at COP26

Cities 4 Children intergenerational panel at COP26

We’re building our collection of videos and multimedia too

As we do more events and spread our wings further, we’re fortunate enough to work with some of the industry’s leading lights. Our Youtube channel hosts some of these speakers. Do take a look to view a speech by Helen Clark, former New Zealand prime minister, delivered during our COP26 event, and voices of global youth who shared their concerns and hopes ahead of COP26. We also have a video showcasing CEOs of our Alliance members, detailing their commitments when it comes to cities and children. And don’t miss the Alliance introductory video.


Collaboration between members

In addition to all of this, our members are collaborating on many projects and publications. We share news about these collaborations on our social media channel. Follow us on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram or LinkedIn to stay updated.

We’re excited to continue our work into 2022. We’ve put so much energy in across just a few months: we can’t wait to share with you all the stuff we’re working on now, and to see what our future will bring.


We welcomed new member organisations

Our member organisations are in full: African Centre for Cities, ARUP, Bernard Van Leer Foundation, BYCS, Child in the City, Cities Alliance, Equity for Children, FIA Foundation – Child Health Initiative, Habitat for Humanity, ICLEI, International Play Association, International Red Cross and Red Crescent Federation, ISOCARP, NACTO – Global Designing Cities Initiative, Plan International, Save the Children, SDI, STBY, UCLG, UCL Engineering for International Development, UN Habitat, UNHCR, UNICEF, What Design Can Do and World Vision.

Information about our member organisations is available on our website.

Global Alliance - Cities 4 Children members

Global Alliance – Cities 4 Children members


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